The region’s growing status as one Ireland’s preferred conference destinations has been underlined with results published today showing that 2018 was a record year for revenue from the sector.
In the same week that a Limerick Chamber conference heard that hotel business was up by 119% in 2018, with business from the North American market up 257%, the Shannon Conference and Sports Bureau has revealed that over €7.5million worth of conferencing business was generated across the region.
The Conference and Sports Bureau revealed that the record level of business achieved through conferencing in the region saw each delegate worth all of €1,600 to the local economy.
Said Tony Brazil, Limerick Travel and Chairman of the board of Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau: “In other words each 1,000 person event can contribute €1.6 million to the local exchequer.”
Such is the potential for conferencing in the region that the organisation is now calling for the concept of a major conference centre to be explored for Limerick.
Said John Rice, Glance Promotions, who represents Limerick Chamber: "The addition of a properly scaled, and specifically designed, multi-purposed centre that can host both conferences and exhibitions would substantially grow economic activity in the entire region.”
Meanwhile, Limerick’s hotel sector enjoyed the highest growth rate nationally in 2018, figures revealed by AIB at the Limerick Chamber business briefing for the tourism, retail & hospitality sector suggest.
Giving a range of insights drawn from examining card transactions, David McCarthy, Head of Hospitality and Tourism at AIB – sponsors of the event – revealed that Limerick hotel business was up by 119% in 2018, with business from the North American market up 257%.
Speaking at the event titled ‘Spending Trends: Tourism, Retail & Hospitality Industry Insights & Marketing Trends’ at the Savoy Hotel, Mr Fitzpatrick said: “All of the data is telling us that Limerick is performing extremely well in all elements of the hospitality sector. Hotels pubs and restaurants are all seeing double-digit growth or more in some cases,” he said.
Mr McCarthy said that he expected the growth to continue. “Limerick has the accommodation capacity to take a lot more visitors into the county. A lot of people are coming to attractions and events in Limerick but then they're leaving again and staying in other counties. There's a potential to hold onto them.”
Other speakers to address the packed event were Orla O'Connor, Web Coordinator from the multi-award winning Limerick City and County Council website limerick.ie; Niall O'Callaghan, Managing Director, Shannon Heritage; Derek Smart, Superintendent, An Garda Siochana; Linda Breen, Senior Analyst Southern Region, An Garda Siochana and David Fitzsimons, Retail Excellence Ireland.
Said Mayor of the City and County of Limerick James Collins: "Limerick has had two really positive stories to tell this week. Credit card analysis has shown that hotel business more than doubled last year. The conference business is also contributing hugely to the Limerick economy. Record conference revenues were unveiled this week by Shannon Conference and Sports Bureau.
"With State support Limerick could become the convention centre of the Mid-West. We’re enjoying a really good period in Limerick, across all sectors, but we need to maximise our tourism and business potential, and for that we need State support to match Limerick's ambition. There's no shortage of big ideas, and we have transformative proposals, but Limerick needs to get at least the same level of State grants and support as other cities, such as Cork, get."